Consulting, Technology Ecosystem and Setting Expectations

Question

8 years back when I started my consulting journey, there were 2 major technology ecosystems to deal with. Depending on the problem evaluated it against business, application, development and operational considerations, was able to provide a solution which worked for most of my customers.

4 years back, things started changing. I was putting together the technology road map for the SBU I was working for. There were more than 2 technology ecosystems to deal with. One of the major question I had to answer at that point was if I choose a technology today and start developing, Can this survive the test of time? Can we avoid rewrite at least for next 5 years?

Fast forward to 2016, technology is changing so fast, 5 years seems to be a very long time. If you are starting to develop a product/framework/platform, you need to be prepared at least one or more of your components may change as you start developing and your ecosystem should be ready for that. This requires a different mindset with the business teams, architecture groups, development teams and your ops teams. As an architecture consultant, it is very important to communicate and bring everyone to same page. Having the expectations set right and being ready will avoid the frustrations towards the later part of the journey!

Happy Learning!

AI, Deep Learning, Machine Learning and NLP

Watched this presentation by Frank Chen (Andreessen Horowitz – Tech Topics) today. An Excellent overview about AI, Deep Learning, Neural Networks and Machine Learning.

Frank talked about how one person has built a self driving car using the open source ecosystem available right now. Very inspiring.

Must Watch…

On a side note: May be it is time, we use these technologies to solve the traffic problems at Belandur and Agara, which can make atleast lives of 100 thousand people better and productive, save the $ spent in burning fuel!

Happy Learning!

Is it time to start looking out for a new job?

Career Decision - Next ExitI recently happened to read this post from the Spend Matters blog. Blog Post talks about three questions one should ask themselves regularly to decide whether it is time to look for a new job.

1. Do you feel you are personally learning and developing in your current role? Are you gaining new skills, developing your capability, becoming more expert – with the caveat that it really helps if these are in some sense transferable skills and knowledge.

2. Are you progressing in your career, moving forward from a seniority and / or financial point of view, with a trajectory that is heading in the right direction? (This assumes you have some ambition – not everyone does have, I realize).

3. Do you enjoy what you are doing – is it a good place to work, with decent “hygiene factors” and a bit more – which might be anything from pleasant colleagues and working environment, a commute that is manageable, technology that works, social events …

Excellent set of questions. You can find the original post here. 

This one is my favorite on this topic. Probably tied to all the 3 questions above.

To be happy and be fulfilled at work, people want to feel they are advancing, getting things done, and making an impact. But it’s not enough to simply to receive a pat on the back and a word of encouragement. Rather, we respond much more positively to feedback from the work itself. When we have achieved a goal like closing a sale, writing code that passes the test harness and is pushed to production, releasing a new feature that a million users touch every day, our happiness at work blooms.

Source: Managing for Progress

An Excellent book on this topic : The Progress Principle

Teresa Amabile’s talk at Google

In the end… it is not about the nice office buildings, additional perks etc. It is about the job itself. It is about the people you interact with on a daily basis and deal with.

The Successful demos at the end of every 2 weeks, Production Releases, a good solution to a complex problem, providing a solution using a new technology stack, number of first calls to potential prospects, a good sales pitch to a new prospect, a new customer win on a regular basis, hiring a good candidate, coming up with a new product offering… (A few items from my list). All of these contribute to the small wins part. If you dont have them as part of your day to day job or you dont see the number of small wins…. may be it is time!

Happy Learning!

Software Architecture, Customer Success

Happened to Watch couple of good videos last week on Software Architecture, Design and Customer Success.

How the World Wide Web just happened – Tim Berners-Lee
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yF5-6AcohQw
Great Session. Talks about the importance of being in the right place and the right time.

Mary Poppendieck (Poppendieck.LLC) – The New New Software Development Game: Containers, Micro Services
http://m.ustream.tv/recorded/61477219?rmalang=de_DE
Complexity grows non-linearly with Software size. Software size continues to grow so software complexity will continue to grow even faster. She explains what can we do about the complexity?

A summary of this talk is available here
http://highscalability.com/blog/2015/4/27/how-can-we-build-better-complex-systems-containers-microserv.html

Zen and the art of Customer Relationships
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_2UP4-J7Vc
I loved the Zen and the Art of Customer Relationships presentation from Zen Desk. Awesome Presentation!
Pointers for building long lasting relationships

  1. Don’t overestimate your importance in your customers life
  2. Consider the entire customer experience
  3. Recognize the right relationships and adapt
  4. Be something actual humans can relate to
  5. Be Transparent
  6. Empower your best people to do what’s best
  7. Put a face to your customers

Framework to Build a Killer Customer Success Scorecard
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhx06h8RZ3Q
Another Fantastic presentation from the trenches. A good overview around how to define Customer Success and what are the metrics to monitor (Customer, Financial, Practice and Inter-team)

Building the Customer Success Management Team
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIx5HhfG56w
Happy Learning!

Management 101 : Bad job with a Good Boss is better than a Good Job with a Bad Boss!

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People management is probably the most difficult job in my opinion.  What I meant is for someone who is passionate about people management. What happens to someone who are not passionate about people management and when they are asked to suddenly manage a set of people who are experienced (May be 10+, 15+ years) and /or are a bunch of Alpha’s?

If you are tasked to manage a bunch of senior folks for the first time, following are a set of people management 101 that you could help you establish yourself.

  • Start with Communicating your Vision for the newly formed team/or the team you have taken over.
  • Meet with them on a regular basis and explain what are the steps the team would take to reach your vision.
  • Explain your team members why they are important to you.
  • Explain the team that how what they are doing is helping them, you, business unit and the company.
  • Setup a weekly cadence and repeat. People have short term memory. Bring them together (face to face) on a regular basis.
  • Have regular 1:1s and talk to them on a regular basis. Set Expectations, give feedback and take feedback. If you don’t know how to set expectations, then make it explicit. If you BS that they are senior members and they will self-manage and they don’t need direction etc.…

“Many people are unmotivated, not because they have a great reason to be, but rather because they have not been given a great reason to be motivated & engaged”Delegation

  • Be Honest and ask your team for advice/suggestions. When you get suggestions/advice, stop your normal BS and listen. You are asking for advice/suggestion, either because it’s not your specialization or may be the other person is better than you.

“People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left” ~ Simon Sinek

  • If you don’t know how their career will shape up, ask them on what they want to achieve, take help from other folks in the company who can help in defining their career roadmap. This is a very important step as most of the 15+ years guys would have hit the glass-ceiling at this point. Helping them with defining the career roadmap, you will earn their trust and respect .

“The problem when someone feels burned out, bored, unchallenged, or stifled by their work is not the job itself but rather the environment and playground rules given to them to do the job at hand” ~ Tony Hsieh

  • When you want someone to work on something, don’t just forward emails with FYI. Call your team members and give them the context. Explain them why you are expecting them to work on it. Emails may not communicate everything. At the end you don’t want your team members to call you as “Post Master“.
  • Show your confidence. When you see email exchanges, don’t keep silence. There are times where you need be assertive, authoritative etc. You might think you are helping your team by being silent, wherein they might think differently.
  • Lead from the front. If only your team members are expected to work and if you work only on managing your manger’s perception, I don’t think you will be successful.
  • Show that you really care. If you say to your team members that they are really very important, then they should also feel it that way. Stop providing only Lip service.

I am sure if you show people that you really care , people will listen and work for you.

At an Organization Level
Whenever there is a change at the leadership level, please handhold your leaders/managers. There are certain cultural aspects and reasons why certain things happen in a certain way. Understand how the new person is managing their team members. Some people are very good in managing perception. You don’t want your team to vanish in a flash.

Software development is based on People and if your best guys don’t perform, there is something more than what you see. Maybe, it is time for the senior guys to speak to your best people and understand. Ultimately, if people don’t perform, company will not be performing either.

Happy Learning!

Image Credit
Harvey Enrile | Unsplash.com
Ambro | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Technology Ecosystem for the Modern Day Business Application Developer

Technology is changing at a rapid pace. Everyday you see something new to be learnt, which did not exist few months back. If you are like me, who has come from an application development background, what does this change means to you?

For sure, this is not for gyan. Tried depicting this in a form, which i could use as a reference.  I purposefully, hace not included Desktop applications in this. If you are working in some of them, you may have include it for yourself. Obviously, this may change when we revisit this in couple of months.

Similarly, things like Programming Languages (Java, C#, Ruby), OOPS Concepts, TDD, SOLID Principles are foundations.

Technology Ecosystem

Is this Perfect? Not Necessarily. This is my version and you may have a different way of visualizing this. If you create one, please do share it with me 🙂

Did I cover all aspects? Not really. Take Analytics as an example. If you take Descriptive Analytics, you start looking at traditional Business Intelligence, Data Warehousing, Data Visualization etc. Each one is a separate block diagram on its own. Hence, i have stopped it at a very high level for this.

Can i be a master of all this? May not be possible. But if we have to call ourselves as techies, then we at least need to know what these are, where we can use them and may be pick and choose couple of items that could be of our interest and master it.

Happy Learning!!!

Business Model Canvas

The first time, i came to know about Business Model Canvas was couple of years ago. I always thought i understood the fundas. But recently tried this and realized it was not the case.

I was recently working on creating a strategy map and landed in this excellent post by Steve Blank “The Future of Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship“.  This post is a must read, if you want to understand why we are doing this.

While org charts provided the “who” of a business, companies were missing a way to visualize the “how” of a business. Strategy Maps are one of the ways companies visualized the “How” of a business. Strategy Maps are a tool to translate the strategy into specific actions and objectives to measure the progress of how the strategy gets implemented.

By the 21st century, organizations still lacked a tool to create and formulate new strategies. Enter the Business Model Canvas. The canvas describes the rationale of how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value (economic, social, or other forms of value). The canvas ties together the “who and how” and provides the “why”. External to the canvas are the environmental influences (industry forces, market forces, key trends and macro-economic forces.) With the business model canvas in hand, we can now approach rethinking corporate innovation strategy and structure.

Existing companies and their operating divisions implement known business models. Using the business model canvas, they can draw how their organization is creating, delivering, and capturing value. A business model for an existing company or division is not filled with hypotheses, it is filled with a series of facts. Operating divisions execute the known business model. Plans and processes are in place, and rules, job specifications, revenue, profit and margin goals have been set. Forecasts can be based on a series of known conditions.

Inside existing companies and divisions, the business model canvas is used as a tool to implement and continuously improve existing business models incrementally. This might include new products, markets or acquisitions.

Couple of good references to understand this in detail
Understanding Business model fundamentals
Business Model Canvas 101
Understanding Facebook Business Model
Understanding Google Business Model

Happy Learning!!!